u Spy games
David Downing’s Zoo Station is a scary suspense thriller that will have you gasping, as the protagonist, an ordinary man, finds himself in dangerous situations and finally reaches heroic stature. Englishman John Russell is a member of the foreign press corps in Berlin and a first-hand witness to the brutal machinations of Hitler and the Nazi party in the build-up to war during the early months of 1939. Eventually, he becomes a spy—first for the Soviet Union and then, simultaneously, for the British.
By David Downing,Old Street, 293 pages,Rs295.
u French connection
Ukrainian Jewish writer Irene Nemirovsky wrote this book in 1941 about her own struggles under Nazi Germany, and those of the ordinary citizens of France.
Set during a year that begins with France’s fall to the Nazis (in June 1940) and ends with Germany turning its attention to Russia, Suite Francaise consists of two novellas. The first is about a group of Parisians who flee the Nazi invasion; the second follows the inhabitants of a small rural community under occupation.
Nemirovsky’s gift as a writer lay in her portrayal of people—haughty aristocrats, bourgeois bankers and snobbish aesthetes rub shoulders with uncouth workers and Bolshy farmers.
By Irene Nemirovsky,Vintage, 528 pages,Rs264.
u Riverside thriller
It’s Canada of 1867. As the winter becomes unbearable in the isolated settlement of Dove River, a man is murdered and a 17-year-old boy disappears. After these events, people are drawn to the township—journalists, Hudson Bay Company men, trappers, traders—but do they want to solve the crime, or exploit it? In this debut novel, The Tenderness of Wolves, Stef Penney deftly weaves adventure, suspense and subtle humour.
The Tenderness of Wolves:
By Stef Penney, Quercus, 466 pages,Rs275.
u Big fish
Another debut to look out for this year. Paul Torday’s Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is a quirky novel. It’s the story of Dr Alfred Jones, a fisheries scientist— for whom diary-notable events include the acquisition of a new electric toothbrush and getting his article on caddis fly larvae published in Trout and Salmon . He reluctantly gets involved in a project to bring salmon fishing to the ‘Highlands of the Yemen’—a project that will change his life, and the course of British political history. With a wickedly wonderful cast of characters—including a visionary Sheikh, a spin doctor, Fred’s devilish wife and a few thousand salmons—this is a satire on human frailties.
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen:
By Paul Torday,Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 352 pages, Rs595.
American mystery/thriller writer Harlan Coben is best known for his series on Myron Bolitar—a character that got Coben a following beyond America. His new novel, The Woods, is a stand-alone mystery, but with all the qualities of a Coben thriller.
Paul Copeland lost his sister when four teenagers disappeared from the woods near the summer camp, while he was in the forest with his girlfriend, Lucy. His sister was never seen again. Now, Copeland is a top prosecutor involved in a high-profile case to nail down two teenage frat-boy rapists. A widower and lone parent, he has lost touch with Lucy. But his life takes a turn when a dead body turns up at his doorstep.
While he tries to grapple with what this could mean, someone else is watching Paul. So is his sister alive? The novel’s hooks are its fast pace and unpredictable twists in the plot.
By Harlan Coben,
Orion Books, 404 pages, Rs795.
Courtesy: Landmark bookstore